Robert Lee Newton Sr.
March 25, 1927-Sept. 26, 2012
LAKEVILLE — Robert Lee Newton Sr., 85 years old, passed away at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 at his home. Mr. Newton was born March 25, 1927 in Downers Grove, Ill. to the late Leo Bennett Newton Sr. and Willie Viola (Hammons) Newton. He graduated from Hinsdale High School, Hinsdale, Ill. June 7, 1945. During his senior year in high school, Oct. 26, 1944, Mr. Newton enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served his country from June 22, 1945 through Dec. 23, 1946, serving in Germany with occupational troops. Mr. Newton was honorably discharged in December of 1946. Bob was proud of being a veteran.
Bob moved to Tippecanoe where he farmed and also worked at Bendix Aviation in South Bend. He began his racing career at the South Bend Motor Speedway and various area tracks. He quit farming in 1951 and moved to South Bend where he met his wife, Joyce. Bob and Joyce married Feb. 17, 1952 at the Community Church on Cleveland Road, South Bend.
Bob took over two Sunoco service stations and continued to race. Due to the inferior tires that were available for racing, Bob started working with a friend, Karl Huff of Huff Tread Service, that helped him learn to buff and recap tires. He was able to find a rubber compound that was much more acceptable to racing. Bob then became acquainted with the President of Mohawk Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio and was able to start to have a new race tire built by Mohawk. Bob was the only person allowed to go into the plant at Mohawk and work alongside the factory employees and the compounders. By having this ability, he was able to learn how to build a tire carcass and make successful compounds suitable for racing. After Mohawk closed without notice, Bob built his tire plant in Plymouth. This plant was named R & J Manufacturing Corporation, for Robert and Joyce. This is where the Hoosier Racing Tires are still manufactured today. Corporate headquarters, including sales and shipping, are located in Lakeville. This complex is called Hoosier Racing Tire. As of Jan. 1, 2012, both corporate headquarters and manufacturing work together under the Hoosier Racing Tire banner. With a great team of sales personnel, factory employees, and a fabulous distributor group, Hoosier Racing Tire is the largest manufacturer of race tires in the world. This could not have happened without Bob Newton at the helm.
Bob leaves to cherish his memory, his loving wife of 60 years, Joyce. Also surviving are his four children, Terry Lee Newton of Lakeville, Donald Bennett (Nancy) Newton of Plymouth, Marjorie Dolores (Ron) Skaggs of Lakeville, and Mary Lee (Rodney) Purvis of Lakeville; his sister-in-law, Gayle A. Newton of Rolling Meadows, Ill.; 12 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Although they are not blood related, the following are also his children; the late Michael Boits, who passed the morning of Sept. 26 just a few hours prior to Bob, (Mary Boits) of Lakeville, Larry “Toots” Merrill of Lakeville, Judith Newton of Lakeville; stepmother, Sibyl A. Newton of Lakeville, who loved him as her own and he in turn loved her. Bob was preceded in death by his father and mother, Leo B. Newton Sr. and Willie V. Newton; brother, Leo B. Newton Jr., sister, Rosemarie Abbott and his precious baby son, Robert L. Newton Jr.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 at the Newton Center, 601 N. Michigan St., Lakeville, Military graveside services and burial will follow at St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park, Granger. Friends may visit with the family from 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, at the Newton Center. Palmer Funeral Home, Lakeville, is assisting the Newton family.
Contributions in memory of Robert Lee Newton Sr. may be donated to Newton Park, 65465 U.S. 31, Lakeville, IN 46536, Center for Hospice Care, 111 Sunnybrook Court, South Bend, IN 46637 or Memorial Hospital, 610 N. Michigan Street, South Bend, IN 46601. Online condolences may be offered to the Newton family at www.palmerfuneralhomes.com .